A smart business book detailing some vicissitudes of retailing, wrapped in a vivid biography of an engaging tycoon.

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THE BILLIONAIRE WHO WASN’T

HOW CHUCK FEENEY SECRETLY MADE AND GAVE AWAY A FORTUNE

Dublin-based journalist O’Clery presents an archetypal American success story, a rags-to-riches account with a twist.

Few people had heard of Charles Francis Feeney in 1988 when Forbes outed him as immensely wealthy. He was, the magazine reported, richer than Mr. Murdoch or The Donald, richer than David Rockefeller. But O’Clery reveals that Chuck Feeney was personally worth merely a few million—Feeney had managed, through his French wife, to transfer, in strict secrecy, his considerable wealth to offshore charitable foundations. Born during the Depression, Feeney was an Irish-American kid from New Jersey, educated at Cornell on the GI Bill. A natural, bright entrepreneur, he devised ways of selling liquor and gray-market cars duty-free to service men abroad. Business was good, and soon he was selling brandy and other extravagant treats to Japanese tourists in Hawaii; the money continued to pour in as he expanded his market to Hong Kong and beyond. But despite his growing wealth, Feeney reverted to his social conscience and to active philanthropy. This dominant retailer of brand-name goods kept his own name concealed, and the code of omerta applied to all who dealt with his secret foundations. With the line between the donor and the charities often porous, subterfuges shrouded major unsolicited gifts to Feeney’s alma mater, to Sinn Féin and to many other beneficiaries around the world (between 1998 and 2006, his Atlantic Philanthropies “provided $220 million for a series of building and scholarship projects and health initiatives in Vietnam.”) A decade ago, the cloak and checkbook operation was finally exposed. Feeney, who flies economy class, wears a $15-dollar watch and uses plastic bags for briefcases, was ready to provide a public example for other wealthy people. There was a split with his former partners when the declining business was sold at the top of the market, but Feeney’s ex-associates, now immensely rich, do not seem to have adopted his principles.

A smart business book detailing some vicissitudes of retailing, wrapped in a vivid biography of an engaging tycoon.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-58648-391-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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